Qualcomm CEO says Windows legacy apps have to go touch

Touch is the new paradigm, says Paul Jacobs, and older programs will have to adapt to the upcoming, touch-friendly version of the Windows OS.

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
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Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs at CES 2012. James Martin/CNET
Older Windows programs will have to be updated to incorporate touch capabilities, Qualcomm's chief executive said. And that's something that should help adoption of the newest version of the operating system.

Paul Jacobs, speaking today during a small press roundtable in New York before tomorrow's Windows 8 launch, said there will be "FUD" -- fear, uncertainty, and doubt -- around legacy applications when Windows RT first launches, but the capabilities offered by the new system will ultimately win over consumers.

He noted that older applications will have to be updated to take advantage of the new functionality in Microsoft's latest version of the operating system. Most legacy PC apps currently don't work with touch screens or run on the Windows RT version of the OS.

"Legacy apps have to go touch," Jacobs said. "That's the paradigm now. You need to be touch."

The latest version of Windows, officially being unveiled tomorrow, is the first version of Microsoft's operating system to incorporate touch capabilities and other features commonly found on tablets. One iteration of the software, known as Windows RT, runs on chips based on ARM architecture, like those from Qualcomm. Such chips traditionally are used to power smartphones and tablets and are considered more power-efficient.

But there are worries that consumers could be confused about the differences between Windows RT and the full version of Windows, known as Windows 8. Windows RT is more like "Windows Lite" than a full-blown update to the operating system. One big criticism of Windows RT is that older applications won't work with the software. That includes popular programs like iTunes and World of Warcraft.

However, Jacobs said today that the performance of Windows RT devices -- with features like standby mode and long battery life -- will differentiate them from Windows 8 devices.

He and Qualcomm President Steve Mollenkopf, who also attended the roundtable, said consumers ultimately will like the more mobile experience with Windows RT. And the number of apps available will increase.

"People right now have the assumption that apps won't come, but the assumption should be the other way around," Jacobs said. "You're going to see a lot of stuff that's going to continue to happen past this launch date."

Jacobs noted that more developers will create programs for the system once they realize Windows 8/RT and Windows Phone 8 are "fundamentally the same system." Bill Gates, Microsoft's co-founder and chairman, made similar comments during a Microsoft interview. He noted that the PC/tablet version of Windows and the phone version will ultimately merge.

Meanwhile, Mollenkopf said the mobile market likely has room for three operating systems. Android and Apple's iOS currently dominate the market, but RIM and Microsoft have been vying for the third-place position.

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